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May 12, 2010 【Seminar / Symposium / Lecture】

Pre-Seminar Report: Two Lectures by Professor Wilhelm Brauneder

     On April 2 and 9, 2010, Professor Wilhelm Brauneder of the University of Vienna, Republic of Austria was invited to give two lectures as 'Pre-seminars for the Institute of EU Studies', which forms part of the Support Project for Strategic University Collaborations between Hitotsubashi University and Keio University.

     When we consider the integration of the laws of EU countries, we are first confronted with the conflict between two types of legal system - namely, the common law, which is based on the case law of England, and the civil law, the foundation of which is the codified law of Continental Europe, historically developed from Roman law. The conflict has been considered to be historical and fundamental and it has been thought too difficult to overcome or bridge the gap. However, contrary to the received wisdom, when we observe pre-modern history, the fact becomes clear that the conflict is, at most, only relative. Indeed, once the common perceptions we have now of the past are eliminated, even the historical existence of this gap begins to appear doubtful.
     Moreover, Roman law has not been received in every field of law on the Continent and even where it has been accepted, it has been amalgamated with local case law or customs. It is therefore illogical to regard Roman law as making the integration of the laws of Continental Europe possible. Also, through codification in modern times, such regional differences have become fixed at national level and further expanded. In light of this historical experience, the importance of learning from the past from a perspective unfettered by the conflict between common law and civil law and then examining the future of the integration of the laws of EU countries becomes clear.

     In Professor Brauneder's first lecture, entitled 'The Integration of Laws in Europe: Common Law and Civil Law', on April 2, he also examined European legal unity, the pertinent features of which are case law and custom. In the following lecture, 'The Austrian General Civil Code (ABGB) as an European Civil Code', on April 9, he discussed the significance of codified law from the perspective of the ABGB, which will mark the bicentenary of its entry into force next year.

     Both lectures provided penetrating perspectives, supported by abundant knowledge, and indicated that the integration of the laws of EU countries is a formidable challenge that should be viewed in 100-year units, while advocating that steps should be taken steadily with a firm belief in pre-modern common legal traditions.